MELBOURNE, Australia — Milos Raonic played through the pain of a thigh injury as he missed his bid Friday to become the first Canadian man to reach a Grand Slam final.
The 25-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., spent more than four hours battling Andy Murray before the second-seeded Scot produced a 4-6, 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2 victory to move into Sunday’s Australian Open final against Novak Djokovic.
With a 2-1 lead in the match and a 2-1 lead in the fourth set, Raonic needed off-court treatment for his leg. When he returned, his power game faded and errors mounted as the clock moved towards midnight at the Rod Laver Arena.
"It’s unfortunate … probably the most heartbroken I’ve felt on court, but that’s what it is," Raonic said. "I was going to play and try to do whatever I could."
Raonic had been hoping to join Eugenie Bouchard in the rarefied circle of Canadians who have reached Grand Slam finals — Bouchard did it at Wimbledon in 2014. Montreal native Greg Rusedski reached the U.S. Open final in 1997 but he was representing Great Britain at the time.
Raonic has now played and lost two Grand Slam semifinals after falling to Roger Federer at Wimbledon two years ago. The loss was Raonic’s first in 2016 after winning the Brisbane title — the eighth title of his career.
The Canadian was able to use his massive serve to good effect throughout much of the match, firing 23 aces. Raonic finished with 78 unforced errors, 50 more than Murray, but also hit 72 winners to 38 for the two-time major winner.
In an unusual start, the first seven points of the match went against serve, with Raonic breaking at love and then facing triple-break point before holding for a 2-0 lead. It was Raonic’s only break of the match, with Murray fending off six other break-point chances.
Raonic was hampered by an adductor problem in his upper right leg from late in the third set. He needed a medical timeout, and later in the fourth set had a massage from the trainer.
"I couldn’t push off, I couldn’t get up to serve, and I couldn’t change direction," Raonic said.
After having his serve broken to open the fifth set, Raonic walked back to his chair and angrily smashed his racket on the hard court surface twice, breaking it.
"That was sort of the whole frustration of everything sort of getting out," said Raonic, who tends not to be demonstrative on court. "I don’t think that’s like myself to do, but sometimes it’s a little bit too much to keep in. I was going to fight and see what I could make of it, but it wasn’t looking that great."
Murray went on a run of winning 20 of 25 points to go ahead 4-0 and all but clinch the match and a spot in a ninth Grand Slam final. He said he sensed Raonic slowing down, but had to keep his mind on his own side of the court.
Raonic, meanwhile, said he’s in no rush to determine the extent of his muscle injury.
"I’m not in the mental state where I would be seeing a doctor to get a recommendation today," he said. "Maybe that happens tomorrow or whenever I feel like I’m ready to face that situation. When that comes, I’ll deal with it accordingly."
Canadian Daniel Nestor is scheduled to play in the men’s doubles final on Saturday with Czech partner Radek Stepanek.